Women's Basketball Coaching Staff
| JR Payne looks to lead the Thunderbirds back to the postseason in the their second year in the Big Sky, and her fifth overall season as the head coach at Southern Utah. The T-Birds battled to a spot in the conference tournament this past spring with one of the league’s top-scoring offenses (69.7 ppg) while leading the BSC in both offensive and overall rebounding (17.4 orpg and 43.7 rpg).
The 2012-13 season saw the continued growth of guard Hailey Mandelko who ranked among the Big Sky leaders with an average of 11.8 ppg and shot over 36 percent from three on her way to receiving all-conference honors. Junior Carli Moreland shot almost 53 percent from the field to finish third in the BSC and seventh in the single season record books at SUU. The team also set new program marks in total rebounds (1,356) field goal attempts (1,932), points scored (2,169) and placed four student-athletes on the Big Sky Conference All-Academic Team.
Payne’s tenure at Southern Utah has been highlighted by the 2010-11 season when the team posted a record of 16-14, its best mark in the past seven years. The 2011 squad also had one of their best seasons as a member of the Summit League, posting a 10-8 record to finish fifth in the conference. Under Payne’s guidance, forward Challis Pascucci produced one of best individual performances in SUU history, earning a spot on the All-Summit League first team after finishing third in the conference in scoring (17.7 PPG), second in rebounding (9.7 RPG) and sixth in blocks (23). Pascucci finished the 2011 season as the Thunderbirds all-time leader in career rebounds (929) and fourth in scoring (1,328).
Prior to coming to SUU, Payne served as the top assistant at Santa Clara University under first-year head coach Jennifer Mountain for the 2008-09 season. She also served as an assistant coach at Boise State University and Gonzaga University. During her time in Boise, the Broncos enjoyed a wealth of success, winning conference titles two of the three years and advancing to the NCAA postseason. BSU posted back-to-back 24-8 seasons, including a perfect 14-0 mark at home during the 2007-08 season. Payne began her career at Gonzaga University, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under head coach Kelly Graves. Payne was an integral part of the Bulldogs turnaround as the team posted a five-win season during the staff’s first year then went to a 28-win season during the 2004-05 season, including an undefeated run in the West Coast Conference. Payne was a part of the process that brought Gonzaga’s first All-American to campus in guard Shannon Mathews.
As a player, Payne was a four-year letter winner at St. Mary’s College (Calif.), helping the Gaels earn their first trip to the NCAA Tournament in school-history during the 1998-99 season. The former point guard was an All-West Coast Conference first team selection and was also named to the West Coast Conference All-Tournament first team twice.